The 2016 Presidential Election was one of the most divisive elections in the history of the United States. Since Trump’s victory, society has perpetuated fear, disappointment, and hatred for the voters of the opposing side. This rampant animosity has become a plague on society. People are free to voice their dissatisfaction with the results, but it has come to a point where they are demonizing half the nation.
With this project, I wanted to explore the some of the social decisions people make with Trump or Hillary supporters alike. To do this, I chose to use Twine as my storytelling platform. My experience with Twine this time around differed greatly from my previous encounter, where I basically used it to tell a linear story that could be explored and the reader was able to take closer looks at the world of the narrative. For this story, however, I chose to put a larger emphasis on the ability of the reader to change the story based on their decisions. The events of the story are always the same, but it’s the player that changes. The player makes a decision almost every page, resulting in a wide array of unique experiences. This made writing the story particularly cumbersome, almost like fighting a hydra; I would write one page only to triple the number of pages I needed to write.
What I want to explore specifically was how the decisions the reader made shaped his or her social interactions with his or her friends and family. No matter how you vote on the first page, your father is always Republican and your friends are always Democrats. You can play with the dynamics by determining whether or not to bring up politics, who you get lunch with, and where you view the results. Each of these decisions provides a unique set of conversations. Depending on your choices, you may end up weakening or strengthening your relationships between your dad or your friends. There are multiple endings, but none of them are exactly satisfying. There is maybe one I consider the “good ending”, but even that is laced with uncertainty.
Twine also afforded me the ability to use image and video. There are a few pages with a picture or video that I feel adds to the experience. The presentation is definitely enhanced by these scenes that help the reader visualize the story.
Overall, Twine gave me everything I wanted to tell this story. It is possible to translate this story to perhaps a locative narrative, but I would lose the ability to let the reader make decisions that change the narrative. Another early consideration was the write the story as a full-fledged text adventure. This would allow the reader to truly explore the world, but again, I would fail to tailor the story to the reader’s individuality.
Twine is a medium that is able to tell story with empathy. With this story, I tried to understand the feelings of people with differing ideologies. I think anyone can read my story making the decisions they visualize themselves making, but there is also merit playing it as someone else and trying to understand them, rather than demonize them.